Workshop #3:

Creating a departmental culture that supports research among faculty and students

The College of Arts & Sciences hosted a chair leadership development workshop on creating a departmental culture that supports research among faculty and students, October 23, 2012.

Comments from Dean Kurtz

A key responsibility for departmental leadership is to make the research enterprise in the College stronger. Accordingly, I encourage each unit to identify effective and innovative strategies that fit disciplinary and departmental expectations and priorities. Our recent chair development workshop reported on below provides an excellent starting point for faculty to discuss and consider how the department can foster and advance its research goals both for faculty and for students.

Special Thanks to
Linda Bennett, Facilitator
Invited contributors:
J. Gayle Beck, Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence, Department of Psychology
Nicole Detraz, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science
Shaun Gallagher, Lillian and Morrie Moss Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy
Santosh Kumar, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science
Andrew Olney, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology and Associate Director, Institute for Intelligent Systems

What are some successful departmental strategies for fostering and advancing research activities for both faculty and students?
  • Target applicants with established research programs to fill vacant tenure track positions
  • Request adequate startup funds to support new faculty research
  • Establish appropriate departmental practices regarding course releases for funded and unfunded research
  • Counsel (mentor) young faculty throughout the tenure probation period
  • Supply administrative support for grant proposals (pre- and post-award)
  • Organize peer reviews within the department for grant proposals
  • Award departmentally funded research graduate assistantships to support faculty research
  • Incorporate research activities into graduate and undergraduate curricula so students at all levels gain research experience
  • Provide financial support for graduate students to present at national conferences
  • Host departmental research seminars for faculty and students
  • Sponsor events for students to present research and recognize outstanding presentations with awards
  • Require graduate students to attend professional development seminars
  • Create opportunities, such as Speed Dates, for faculty and students across the university to find out about collaborative opportunities with researchers in your area
  • Celebrate successes via newsletters, press releases, website postings, emails to faculty and students


What are some ideas for improvement?

  • Organizing research space so that researchers with similar interests are in close proximity could help foster increased collaboration
  • Guidelines for course releases could help chairs and faculty find an appropriate balance between research and other activities. Too much release time diminishes the sense of community in a department. Inadequate release time hampers development of strong research programs.
  • Increasing teaching opportunities for advanced doctoral students could provide professional development for doctoral students and relieve teaching loads for faculty
  • Creating a pool of bridge funding for researchers who are between grants could help sustain research programs.